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Industry News

Enron Will Meet with Indian Panel,Will Not Renegotiate Contracts

LCG, May 4, 2001The Enron India unit of U.S. energy giant Enron Corp. said yesterday it would meet members of a government panel to discuss the status of the company's Dabhol Power Co. in Maharashtra state.

The government panel was formed to renegotiate contracts signed between Enron and Maharashtra and the federal Indian government in the mid 1990s, but Enron cautioned that it had no intention to renegotiate those contracts.

The company is based in Texas, where a deal is a deal and a man's word is his bond. That concept has passed the subcontinent by.

"As a matter of courtesy we have agreed to meet with them next week," the DPC statement said. "Since the purpose of our meeting is to hear out the committee and understand their thoughts, we will not present any proposal."

Dabhol's statement was firm is saying "This meeting should in no manner be construed as an open offer from DPC to renegotiate the terms of the contract."

Since the 740 megawatt first phase of the Dabhol project was completed last year, Enron has had to apply extreme pressure to secure payment for power sold to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board. That pressure has taken the for of invoking Maharashtra state's guarantee of payment and, when that has failed, invoking the sovereign guarantee of the Indian federal government..

The MSEB is currently about $48 million in arrears.

Last week in London, where Enron and Dabhol's lenders were meeting to plan future strategy for dealing with their Dabhol problem, Dabhol's board authorized the company to issue a notice of termination of service to the MSEB. While the notice has not been issued, it signalled Enron's willingness to wash its hands of Dabhol, Maharashtra and India.

About half of the $2.9 billion financing for the first phase of Dabhol and its 1,444 megawatt second phase, which is due to begin producing power this year, was provide by Indian financial institutions, Industrial Development Bank of India , ICICI Ltd , Industrial Finance Corporation of India , Canara Bank and State Bank of India.

India has made no secret of its desire to attract massive foreign investment for infrastructure projects. Dabhol is the largest such investment so far, and its failure could dash India's hopes for further foreign money.

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